|PHX||0||2||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|NYR||2||1||1||(0 - 0)||5|
• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Riding a two-goal, three-point performance by Marian Gaborik, the Rangers snapped their three-game winless streak with a 5-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Fittingly, Gaborik’s linemate Enver Lisin, the former Coyotes’ winger, scored the back-breaking goal in the third period for the Rangers. Lisin took a pass from Vinny Prospal on left wing and blistered a slap shot past Jason LaBarbera at 11:47 of the period to provide the Blueshirts a three-goal cushion at 5-2.
“Somewhere deep, deep in my soul I was pretty happy about it,” Lisin said following the game. “But the most important thing is that I wanted to score here in the home arena in a game we win.”
Lisin, who was traded to the Blueshirts by the Coyotes this past summer, had a goal and an assist in an inspired outing against his former club. Prospal scored a goal and added a pair of assists.
With his second two-goal outing as a Ranger already, Gaborik now has 10 goals on the season, tying him with Anze Kopitar of the Kings for the league lead. His three points on the night give Gaborik 18 on the season, second most in the NHL, just three behind Kopitar.
Gaborik’s hot start also puts him just one goal and point behind the pace set by Jaromir Jagr in 2005-06, when Jagr established Rangers single-season goals and points records.
The only potential negative on Monday was that Gaborik left the ice late in the third period and did not return, although his departure appeared to be for precautionary reasons with the game all but over. Following the game, Gaborik told reporters that what happened to him was "nothing major".
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist also starred for the Rangers on Monday night, turning aside 30 of the 32 shots he faced. Lundqvist was particularly strong early in the third period when the desperate Coyotes -- trailing by two goals at the time -- outshot the Rangers 6-1 over the first six minutes of the period.
The Rangers managed only five shots on goal in the first period, but they made the most of their opportunities, scoring twice to carry a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Just 2:31 into the contest, Artem Anisimov scored a somewhat fluky goal to put the Rangers up 1-0. Anisimov collected the puck after it skimmed off the stick of linemate Brian Boyle at the bottom of the right circle, and whirled around 360 degrees, whizzing the puck past a surprised Ilya Bryzgalov in the process.
What made Anisimov’s third goal of the season -- and second in as many games -- even more impressive was that he had 6-foot-2, 210 pound defenseman Zbynek Michalek draped on his back when he made his move to score.
“That fourth line gave us some good shifts,” said Tortorella. “Obviously they scored the first goal that got us started. They looked good.”
The Rangers struck again later in the period when Gaborik one-timed Brandon Dubinsky’s pass into the back of the net during a 4-on-3 power play at the 13:09 mark. Dubinsky swooped around the Coyotes net from left to right, came out at the right circle and zipped his pass to Gaborik, open in the slot. Gaborik used his trademark quick release to score his team-high ninth goal of the season, pushing the Blueshirts’ lead to 2-0.
“When we are good at moving it around the boards, we can tire their penalty-killers out,” said Prospal. “When that happens, it leaves someone open, and it’s just up to us to execute.”
That John Tortorella had Dubinsky on the ice in such an important situation was a credit to the coach’s determination to give his players a second chance.
Tortorella had benched Dubinsky and Christopher Higgins for the entire second half of Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss in Montreal for mistakes and poor play on the part of both forwards. On Monday, not only were Higgins and Dubinsky returned to their usual spots in the lineup at even strength, penalty kill, and power play, they were both in the starting lineup, as well.
“For me it just shows that he has confidence in me,” said Dubinsky. “I never doubted that he did. That’s one of the best things about (Tortorella), that he’s fair and treats everyone the same.”
The Rangers doubled their lead by the 7:46 mark of the second period, driving Bryzgalov from the nets in the process. Prospal scored at 6:05, and Gaborik followed with his second power-play goal of the night 1:41 later to give the Blueshirts a 4-0 advantage.
Gaborik assisted on Prospal’s goal, springing his linemate behind Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin on right wing for a clear path to the Phoenix net. Prospal pulled the puck to his backhand as he neared the crease and finished by putting the puck between Bryzgalov’s pads for his fourth goal of the season.
With Aucoin in the penalty box for tripping, Gaborik ripped a right-wing shot past Bryzgalov’s glove on the short side to make the score 4-0 at 7:46. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett decided it was time for a change in goal at that point and removed Bryzgalov, replacing him with LaBarbera, the former Ranger.
Bryzgalov, who entered the game sporting a pristine 1.60 goals-against average and .933 save percentage, surrendered four goals on 11 shots.
“I think we got a little bit of a break against Ilya because he’s not going to be happy with the way he played for them,” said Prospal, a former teammate of Bryzgalov’s in Anaheim who now has four goals and 16 points this season. “He’s a really good goaltender, and that’s where their success starts.”
The Coyotes picked up their play after the goalie change, and Lundqvist was tested at the other end of the ice. Lundqvist was forced into making a sharp blocker save on Matthew Lombardi’s rising power play shot from right wing at 12:58, and a superb left-pad save on James Vandermeer’s screened slap shot at 15:13.
Phoenix finally broke through seconds later when Ed Jovanovski snuck a right-wing shot through a screen and past Lundqvist at 15:47. And they added a clutch shorthanded tally with 41 seconds left in the second period to pull within 4-2 when Vernon Fiddler converted a perfect pass from Daniel Winnik that slid underneath a diving Michael Del Zotto.
“I thought we were much better tonight, but obviously that second goal bothered me,” said Tortorella. “We were caught changing, and trying to leave the zone, and were just sloppy there. But for the most part we were pretty good.”
Not happy for having allowed Phoenix back into the game, the Rangers were intent on holding on to their lead in the third period, which is exactly what they were able to do.
“I think we were anxious to get back out there,” said Dubinsky. “We came in here a little bit upset with ourselves and the mistakes we had made, and we wanted to get back out there and lock it back down the way we know we can.”
After a few scary moments early in the third, the Rangers finally settled in to hold the Coyotes at bay. And Lisin’s goal took any doubt of what the final result would be out of the picture.
Back on the winning side of the ledger, the Rangers will now play five of their next six games on the road, beginning with Wednesday’s contest against the Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum. The Rangers are 3-1-1 in five games played away from The Garden so far this season.
|Artem Anisimov (3) ASST: Brian Boyle (1), Donald Brashear (1)|
1 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Marian Gaborik (9) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (6), Ales Kotalik (7)|
2 - 0 NYR
|Vinny Prospal (4) ASST: Marian Gaborik (8), Enver Lisin (5)|
3 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Marian Gaborik (10) ASST: Vinny Prospal (11), Michael Del Zotto (7)|
4 - 0 NYR
|Ed Jovanovski (4) ASST: Shane Doan (7), Daniel Winnik (2)|
4 - 1 NYR
|SHG - Vernon Fiddler (1) ASST: Daniel Winnik (3), Ed Jovanovski (5)|
4 - 2 NYR
|Enver Lisin (3) ASST: Vinny Prospal (12), Michael Del Zotto (8)|
5 - 2 NYR
|Martin Hanzal Holding the stick against Marian Gaborik|
|Vinny Prospal Boarding against Zbynek Michalek|
|Matthew Lombardi Hooking against Marc Staal|
|Sean Avery Slashing against Daniel Winnik|
|Sami Lepisto Tripping against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Adrian Aucoin Tripping against Matt Gilroy|
|Ales Kotalik Holding the stick against Scottie Upshall|
|Zbynek Michalek Hooking against Chris Higgins|
|Dan Girardi Tripping against Martin Hanzal|
|Chris Drury Slashing against Matthew Lombardi|
|Donald Brashear Tripping against Lauri Korpikoski|